City leaders call for new parks department

City leaders hold a press conference in support of Councilwoman Adams' proposal on the city's parks department.
Published: Mar. 15, 2021 at 11:34 AM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Community leaders are calling on Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz to back Councilwoman Cecilia Adams’ proposal to reinvent the city’s parks department. Former Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner joined Councilwoman Adams, the Greater Northwest Ohio AFL-CIO, and AFSCME Local 2415 for a press conference Monday in support of the ordinance.

The proposal seeks to create a new Department of Parks, Recreation, Youth Services, and Educational Engagement. Toledo City Council passed the ordinance last week, but a legal opinion from the city’s Department of Law said the council doesn’t have the authority to change a city department without a request from the mayor’s office.

Representatives from the mayor’s office said last week that they support the idea but need more time to lay out a plan.

Finkbeiner said the proposal would bring mentors, teachers, and create a relationship between Toledo Public Schools and the parks system. The former mayor points to the city’s growing problem with gun violence as one pressing reason to implement the changes.

“I don’t have to tell anybody here, we have a growing culture of too much gun violence,” said Finkbeiner. “There’s too much harm and hurtfulness to families in our community by young men who really haven’t had mentors, leaders, encouragers. There are proper ways to work with other people to overcome the circumstances of your environment.”

He said the way to create better environments for area youth is through the city’s parks by implementing specialized programming and activities.

Councilwoman Adams said the ordinance covers areas of weakness in the city that have not yet been prioritized. Without establishing a new department, no work will be done to promote parks and educational programming, according to the councilwoman.

“The administration needs this organizational infrastructure to make sure the work gets done,” Councilwoman Adams said. “This ordinance is the culmination of a lot of work of individuals who have tried to make sure that we build up the areas where you can see the ramifications of it in our community.”

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